Thursday, February 18, 2010

NBA Trading Deadline 2010

Another trading deadline is past, and a few big names involved. The biggest name being Tracy McGrady, although he is past his prime now and his biggest asset is the fact that his contract expires this summer. That has to be the Knicks biggest reason for pursuing him. Perhaps they also think they may be able to sell a few more tickets by adding a "big name" as well. Quite typical of the Knicks, to trade for a guy with a huge contract who has at best questionable character. But it's all supposed to change this summer (at least that's what they want you to believe). Even though McGrady is the biggest name, he probably won't have the biggest impact on his new team. In fact, I would put him more along the lines of 3rd biggest impact. The player with the most impact in this trade will almost certainly be Kevin Martin, who is an offensive force that doesn't get a lot of attention because he's been playing on a bad Sacramento team. He's also being reunited with Rick Adelman, the coach he had a breakout season with in 2006, and plenty of opportunities to score as the Rockets are playing the entire season without star center Yao Ming. The Rockets also get Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, Hilton Armstrong, the Knicks 2012 draft pick (if it's not top 5), and the option to swap picks with the Knicks in 2011 (if it's not #1). The Rockets sent Carl Landry to Sacramento, which I like for the Kings because it gives them a post presence they really don't have, and Martin's scoring essentially duplicates a lot of what Tyreke Evans does for them. Essentially, the Knicks are giving up 2 first round draft picks (potentially high) to clear salary cap space. At that price, they better get Lebron or Dwyane Wade. Jordan Hill looks like a good pickup for the Rockets future, as they're basically playing for next year right now anyway.

The second biggest trade was the Cavaliers getting Antawn Jamison. Jamison is versatile at the power forward position, giving them a guy that can go inside and outside. He's not a superstar though, which if you look at Cleveland's roster they don't really have a superstar outside of Lebron. I'm not sure if this is the move that keeps Lebron in Cleveland, as he was more interested in the Cavaliers pursuing Amare Stoudemire.

The Chicago Bulls look like a team that's more interested in next year than they are in trying to improve the current roster, or cleaning out some locker room issues. They sent John Salmons to the Bucks, who was a key pickup for the Bulls last year at the trading deadline. They also sent Tyrus Thomas to the Bobcats. The Bulls are currently in position to make the playoffs in the East (6th), maybe they don't feel like this year is their time to make a big jump.

The Caron Butler trade from last week looks like a good move for Dallas as they try to close in on the Lakers in the West. Let's face it though, nobody in the West is beating the Lakers unless Kobe is having injury problems during the playoffs. Nice move to get a little better right now, not sure how much it's going to pay off though.

The Boston Celtics acquired Nate Robinson from the Knicks for Eddie House, Bill Walker, and J.R. Giddens. This was a case of the Knicks needing to get rid of Robinson because of his strained relationship with Knicks coach Mike D'antoni. Maybe the Celtics aren't happy with their bench scoring, but I don't know if Robinson is necessarily a better fit than House in that backup point guard position as they've relied on House's 3 point shooting off the bench.

The Utah Jazz traded Ronnie Brewer to the Grizzlies for a 1st round pick. The Jazz needed to save a little money as they are over the luxury tax threshold and the pick gives them a building block for the future. Not sure why the Grizzlies did this, as Brewer will mostly serve as a backup to O.J. Mayo. Not a huge impact there.

Not sure how much impact any of these moves will really have. The Cavs were on their way to the best record in the East. Perhaps Jamison helps them match up better with Orlando (Rashard Lewis) or the Lakers (Lamar Odom) in the playoffs. The Rockets probably have a slightly better chance of making the playoffs with Kevin Martin's scoring added to the mix, but they are really playing for next year when Yao comes back. Tyrus Thomas could make the Bobcats better, but not enough for them to win a playoff series. The Knicks will continue to be bad. The Kings still won't be very good, but it will be interesting to see how Carl Landry plays with Tyreke Evans. Boston may be slightly better with Nate Robinson, but I don't expect him to make the difference in any playoff series.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Technology Pet Peeves

Being somewhat of a tech enthusiast, I have developed several pet peeves about things in the industry for which I will explain below. These are mostly cases where technology exists and is not being used to its proper potential.

Devices with Built-in 3G

Something that bugs me just a little is the devices available that have built in 3G to connect to the internet through a cell phone network. It seems the majority of these devices are low priced netbooks and the upcoming iPad. Let's think about this for a second. Who is most likely to desire an internet connection on the go and be willing to pay for it? Most likely business users, especially those who travel. How many of them are using low priced netbooks with yesterday's technology on computers where they will need to run programs like Microsoft Office? Let's think about who is likely to buy netbooks - probably mostly college students that are likely to have WiFi access everywhere they go on campus and also not likely to have the money to pay for a data contract, which would be evidenced by them buying a low priced machine in the first place. I would be willing to bet that if these computer manufacturers did some market research, they would find that most of the people buying data contracts with cell phone companies are business travelers using middle to high end machines, and they would like the convenience of not having to carry a data card everywhere they go. I was pleased to find that Dell does offer a 3G option on some of their business laptops, but I would like to see this become a standard feature where you can choose your provider when purchasing the laptop. And not that anyone from Apple is likely to read this, but I would BEG for them to add this feature to their Macbook Pros on carriers besides overpriced, unreliable AT&T.

Media Streaming

This is something that the technology has been around for years, but has not really taken off for many reasons. In many cases, the software for streaming media from your computer is often buggy. Also, the devices that stream media often have poor user interfaces. Another thing that bugs me is the lack of streaming software that works well with your iTunes library. Considering the iPod is by far the most popular media player out there, most people are likely to use iTunes as their primary software for their media. Right now, it seems the intended way for you to stream an iTunes library to your TV is buy purchasing an Apple TV for $229, an extremely high price for how little the device does. It really doesn't take a whole lot to stream media from a computer on your home network, something I think could be done in a device that costs less than $100.

Remote Media Streaming

Another way I think these technology companies are really missing the boat is with remote access to your media library. This would essentially make the amount of storage in your mp3 player irrelevant. Imagine having a cell phone with the ability to stream your media from your computer at home over your cell phone provider's 3G network. The technology exists to do such a thing, but nobody is doing it. Why shouldn't my iPhone be able to connect to my iTunes library at home anytime I want? Why won't a Windows Mobile phone connect to your Windows Media library at home? I could understand if the cell phone companies want to hold off on allowing this over their network because of bandwidth concerns (AT&T in particular would be picky about this), but they could at least allow this over WiFi. The Slingbox is living proof that this can be done.

Cell Phone Exclusivity

I realize cell phone manufacturers are often receiving kick backs for having exclusive contracts, but do you really want to close yourself off to a large number of customers because of this? The most notable offender here is the iPhone's exclusive contract with AT&T. This has lead to several unhappy customers who generally like the device but hate AT&T's network. iPhone users typically use more data than other smartphone users, and AT&T's network is not build to handle the additional load in many areas. There are many other popular phones such as the Motorola Droid that offend in this way as well, although I don't think too many people are complaining about going to Verizon for that phone.

Please Support Blu-ray, Apple!

I have two laptops, and the main reason I still have two laptops is because my Macbook Pro does not have a blu-ray drive. Having been a Playstation 3 owner since 2007, the majority of the movies I own now are on blu-ray, so I would like it if the laptop I am most likely to travel with was able to play these. Thankfully, digital copies are becoming more common with newer blu-rays, but I still have several movies that aren't, and ripping blu-rays isn't an easy thing to do either.

To sum things up, I would like to be able to buy a Macbook Pro with a blu-ray drive and built-in 3G, I want my iPhone to stream media from my iTunes library at home, and I want devices such as my PS3 or blu-ray player to stream media more reliably on my network, and stream from my iTunes library if possible but if not at least stream from the folder that contains my iTunes library and do it well. The technology to do these things exists, now if only we could make all of this happen....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Twenty Ten or Two Thousand Ten? Saints Win Super Bowl (Wrong New Orleans team moved to Utah), My Brain Does Strange Things

How do you pronounce 2010?

So I've heard of some debate whether you pronounce this year Twenty Ten or Two Thousand Ten. The argument I've heard in favor of Twenty Ten is you would not have pronounced the full thousand in past centuries, like for 1910 you wouldn't say One Thousand Nine Hundred Ten. Let me present my argument for Two Thousand Ten. This past decade, you would rarely hear someone pronounce the year starting with Twenty, because it sounds awkward to say Twenty O Nine. Why would a new decade change the way you pronounce the year? Think about when you may be talking about several years in a row. Are you going to go say Two Thousand Nine and then Twenty Ten? It comes out awkward to pronounce consecutive years differently. So, any thoughts on the matter?

Rut vs Groove

So I tend to have this problem where I often settle into a rut. My life seems to turn into a routine that repeats itself on a weekly basis. I feel like I need to try new things, but the problem is I don't know what to try. This is one of the reasons I bought a skateboard at the end of last summer, although I haven't used it as much as I would have thought. Maybe if I had someone who could help me learn some tricks, I might do that more. I like to go bike riding, so anybody reading this let me know if you want to go sometime this Spring/Summer. Another thing I'd like to do more of is playing tennis. I've only played a few times, but found it to be quite fun. That'll probably have to wait for Spring/Summer too. I think another problem I've had is growing up in the south, I never really learned to participate in any winter activities. In the past, I have kind of just settled on coming home from work at night to play video games or watch whatever basketball game is on TV. I have an itch to do something else though, but I'm not sure what that something is.

iPad - the Apple product I probably won't buy

I like a lot of Apple's products - my Macbook Pro has been my most reliable computer and I haven't had any problems with my iPods. I've also found my iPhone to be much simpler to use than any Windows Mobile smartphone I have owned. But the iPad is a mystery to me. With the 10" (ok, really 9.7") screen, it's not really much more portable than a laptop such as my 13" Macbook Pro. In fact, I may argue that it's less portable because you have to worry about protecting the exposed screen, which is not an issue with a laptop because the screen simply folds over the keyboard. The device doesn't have a keyboard, unless you connect one when you dock it. Imagine trying to write a blog post on the iPad's touchscreen keyboard. Steve Jobs claims it's good for email, I beg to differ. I can pretty much guarantee that you would rather type on a full size physical keyboard than a touchscreen virtual keyboard any day. Steve Jobs also claims it's the best browsing experience... meh. It doesn't support Flash which is basically a necessity as it's the most commonly used format for online streaming video. Apple's solution for this seems to be something similar to the New York Times app they demoed during the Apple event. I don't believe people are going to want separate apps for many different websites that they visit.

The iPad to me seems like a solution looking for a problem. It's almost the size of a laptop, yet it's limitations are almost the same as you see on mobile phones. I'd also like to know why the 3G version of this device will carry a $130 premium. Does it really cost $130 to add that feature to the device? Why not offer the 3G version with a subsidized contract? For me, I could see myself playing with this device in the Apple store, but I have no plans to take this home with me.

Sports Section - You May Stop Here If You Don't Care

Saints Win Super Bowl

The New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl earlier today. Throughout the season I have discredited the Saints on many occasions, as I had a hard time seeing a team that was very average in 2007 and 2008 rising to the level of a Super Bowl winner. The Saints did excel at several things that Super Bowl winners tend to do, like winning close games and forcing turnovers. They weren't a stellar defensive team, but you don't necessarily need a stellar defense when you have the #1 scoring offense, especially if you have schemes that can force a lot of turnovers like they did in the NFC Championship game against the Vikings. It is a nice victory for the city of New Orleans given what's happened with Hurricane Katrina, and the Colts just barely won three years ago so it's not like we needed to see them win again.

NBA Update

The top of the NBA seems to be shaping out a lot like last year, with the Cavaliers currently holding the best record and the Lakers in a close 2nd. I am of the opinion that the Lakers should win the championship because of their superior talent, and if they don't it will either be because they underachieved or because they had severe injury problems. Injuries actually look like they could be a factor for the Lakers, as Kobe Bryant is currently trying to play through several injuries. Kobe will not miss a playoff game for anything he can possibly play through, but if something happened where Kobe couldn't play, the Lakers almost certainly wouldn't repeat as champions. Should the Lakers stumble, the Nuggets would seem the most obvious beneficiary as they have already given the Lakers problems this season, but don't be shocked if the Phoenix Suns make a serious push as well. The Suns are an inconsistent bunch, going from a 14-3 start to a 12-18 stretch to their current 5 game win streak (4 on the road). The come from behind in games, but they also blow leads. If you look at their rotation, they don't have glaring weaknesses, just inconsistent play from key players such as Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson. They also have a lot of young role players, but they seem to be playing very well now as Robin Lopez has moved into the starting lineup and Goran Dragic has had a few breakout games in recent weeks. The Suns look like a team that could lose quickly in round 1, or get hot and surprise a lot of people. I would be less optimistic about the Dallas Mavericks because of Dirk Nowitzki's past playoff failures, and the Spurs as age seems to be taking its toll on them now. Utah seems like another potential darkhorse depending on how the brackets turn out. They usually play the Lakers well in Salt Lake, although they rarely win in LA. The Jazz have also struggled against the Nuggets this season so their luck against both opponents would have to change.